TV From The Crypts: Lilith’s First Mission- Battlestar Galactica
Greetings my favorite cylon-loving traitors. I think you all know I really love writing about retired TV shows, and this is one that has taken me all too long to watch. Those of you that know me well know that I am absolutely obsessed with Firefly, and as of now it is my favorite TV show of all time. But what I find interesting is that multiple people have asked me the same questions after finding out my love of Serenity: Have you seen Battlestar Galactica? The answer until now has been no. But I have decided that this will be my first real mission for this TV From The Crypts column: to watch all of the Battlestar Galactica series, including the spin off miniseries and movies. Now the question is: will I beat Biff in completing this mission before he completes his Xeno-Phobia mission?
This week I started out with, and pretty much inhaled, season 1, which included the two miniseries parts in the beginning of the show. For those of you who have not watched the show let me set the scene: who knows how long in the future humans have colonized 12 planets and space travel is pretty normal. But humans wanted thing to be even easier for themselves, and tried to accomplish this by building a race of machines known as Cylons that were able to accomplish most of their hard labor. But, like many science fiction fans fear, this race of machines ended up with an intelligence all their own, and with strength, computer capabilities, and now independent thought all superior to the weak humans, they rebelled.
This first rebellion resulted in a long and bloody war but humans and cylons came to a truce. This truce was held up at a meeting between the two races every year, where the humans send a representative to a remote space station and the cylons pretty much never show up, until now. Our show starts as the cylons, some now mutated and evolved to look identical to humans, have decided to fight back their oppression, and in the opening show pretty much the >99% of the human race on the 12 planets is destroyed. The survivors scattered on space ships and one old clunker Battlestar Galactica spaceship that has minimal computer networking in order to survive a cylon attack.
One thing I noticed right away about this show that made it very different from previous science fiction shows that I adore is how dark it is. The mood is always very serious, and in the first half of the first season huge and difficult decisions are made, resulting in loss of more human life and sacrifice. The show as a whole just felt more powerful. While I love the comic relief from Jayne in Firefly, and the antics of Walter making you giggle in Fringe, Battlestar is really lacking that comic relief. I am not saying that is a bad thing, but it makes it a very different show than what I am used to.
The closest the show comes to comic relief is with Gaius Baltar, a computer scientist with a PhD. His comic relief borders on pitiful and neurotic at times. You see, Gaius was in a relationship with a woman known as Shelly that turned out to be a humanoid cylon. And when he was able to escape the wreckage of his planet as it was being nuked, he started having visions of her that no one else could see, which she said was because of a chip she implanted in him resulting in these visions and stunningly realistic conversations with her. Of course, since he is the only one that can see her, he is frequently caught “talking to himself”, and at one point ripping down his pants to have sex with her even though it looked like he was just screwing the table. But that is about as funny as Battlestar gets.
Throughout the show the humans discover this new version of the cylon: the humanoid that looks, feels, and sometimes thinks it is a human. Of course what ensues is quite a witch hunt, since anyone could be a cylon. We also find out that Sharon, one of the ship’s pilots, is a cylon, though whether or not she knows this is hard to figure out.
There are definitely mixed messages throughout the show about whether or not you should be routing for the cylons. Some of them genuinely care about humans, but others want the entire species annihilated. Of course, it is fairly obvious as the story develops that there is a secondary goal of the cylons, one that we will someday come to understand, but essentially that somehow humans are just their puppets in a scheme far greater than anything we can imagine.
A lot of the show is also military oriented, especially since the majority of it takes place on a starship meant to be used for war. The cylons are highly superior strategists, though their ships don’t always hold up in battle as well as the raptors used by the battlestar in many of the skermishes between the two groups. If you are drawn to war-time flicks, this show definitely deals with the fallouts of battle and might be up your alley. There is also a lot of politics as the Ministry of Education is sworn in as the new president, being the highest ranking politician still alive. And being on a battleship blurs the line between democracy and martial law many a times.
The rest of the time that the humans aren’t trying to get their government situated or fight off cylons they are searching for a new planet to try to colonize and rebuild the human race. The commander of the ship, Will Adama, instills a hope in the survivors that he will be able to bring the surviving human race to Earth, a planet long ago colonized by humans and since abandoned and hidden. I am very curious what will be found on Earth when the humans discover it, since the exact time frame of the show is not completely clear.
But the reason I am hooked on this show right now is definitely the mysterious cylons. They are machines and organic at the same time. In one episode, Starbuck, one of the most respected pilots from the crew, ends up highjacking a downed cylon fighter plane, and inside the machine she finds organic material reminiscent of any humans’ blood and guts. The humanoid cylons seem to have a mission to annihilate the majority of the humans, but some of our main characters seem very important to them and are being drawn along in some as of yet unannounced greater plan. They are perfect villains and I am strangely routing for them most of the time, or at least some sort of cooperation between the two races.
I haven’t given away too much with this week’s post, but I have finished Season 1 of Battlestar Galactica and am already moving on to the second. So now I make the spoiler alert warning as I finish up with season 1. I will say that the ending of Season 1 brings a lot of cliffhangers and open ends. Kobal, a planet where humans originated on, has been found. Cylon base ships are destroyed. Starbuck has left on a religious mission to obtain a legendary arrow that will allow the humans to find Earth. A copy of Sharon is pregnant with a human-cylon hybrid. And our fearless leader is shot by one of our favorite cylon infiltrates. Damn. There was a lot in those last two episodes. And now I can’t wait to see how it all works out!
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